Rom 14:7, “For none of us liveth to himself, and no man dieth to himself.”
Life is not just about you.
Your life is all about how you live before God and other people.
Someday each one of us will stand before Jesus Christ and He will be our Judge. There is coming a day when the opportunity to be saved from sin will be past. When Jesus comes the second time, He will come as our Judge. The day of salvation will be past. The day of judgment will be at hand. Each of us will give an account of the attitudes and actions we have done in this body.
My question to you today is: What do you provoke in others who know you and who meet you?
Do you provoke people to anger and wrath?
Do you provoke people to lust after the flesh?
Do you provoke people to love and good works?
22 Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.
23 Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;)
24 And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works:
25 Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
In every conversation and activity it should be our constant purpose to provoke others to love and good works. We should stir them up to be good and do good. We should never provoke another person to think evil or do evil. Our clothing, our speech, our activities, our attitude and countenance should be of such a holy nature as to cause others to want to be holy.
The dictionary definition of the word “provoke” means to: stimulate or give rise to a reaction or attitude. What do you provoke in others?
20 Behold, I send an Angel before thee, to keep thee in the way, and to bring thee into the place which I have prepared.
21 Beware of him, and obey his voice, provoke him not; for he will not pardon your transgressions: for my name is in him.
22 But if thou shalt indeed obey his voice, and do all that I speak; then I will be an enemy unto thine enemies, and an adversary unto thine adversaries.
Under the Old Testament covenant, the leader of God’s people could be provoked to act contrary to the perfect will of God. The people were advised not to do that. But they did provoke Moses and caused him to become so frustrated and angry that he disobeyed the instructions of God.
1 Then came the children of Israel, even the whole congregation, into the desert of Zin in the first month: and the people abode in Kadesh; and Miriam died there, and was buried there.
2 And there was no water for the congregation: and they gathered themselves together against Moses and against Aaron.
3 And the people chode with Moses, and spake, saying, Would God that we had died when our brethren died before the Lord!
8 Take the rod, and gather thou the assembly together, thou, and Aaron thy brother, and speak ye unto the rock before their eyes; and it shall give forth his water, and thou shalt bring forth to them water out of the rock: so thou shalt give the congregation and their beasts drink.
9 And Moses took the rod from before the Lord, as he commanded him.
10 And Moses and Aaron gathered the congregation together before the rock, and he said unto them, Hear now, ye rebels; must we fetch you water out of this rock?
11 And Moses lifted up his hand, and with his rod he smote the rock twice: and the water came out abundantly, and the congregation drank, and their beasts also.
12 And the Lord spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them.
13 This is the water of Meribah; because the children of Israel strove with the Lord,
Moses lost the privilege of leading the children of Israel into the Promise Land. He allowed the people to move him to anger and he appeared to be the power by which the water came forth from the rock.
19 Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:
20 For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.
Some ministers have allowed the people to frustrate them like Israel did to Moses. In their anger and wrath they have poured out the judgments of God upon the offensive behavior and the guilty person. In their failure to wait upon God and let the Holy Spirit bring divine condemnation upon the soul of the transgressor, they have themselves condemned and cast the unruly person out as sinners.
There is no excuse for a sanctified, spirit filled, child of God to allow another person to provoke him to unholy conduct. God’s grace is sufficient to enable us to live holy regardless of our circumstances.
Ephesians 6:4, And, ye fathers, provoke not your children to wrath: but bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord.
Colossians 3:21, Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.
Some fathers are so unwise to purposely provoke their children to anger because they think it will make their sons more capable of bravery and self-defense. We should provoke our children to love and good works. We should cause them to think about living holy, being good, loving those who have problems and are not so loveable. We need to stir up within our children the attitudes and conduct of compassion, good deeds and kindness.
20 Then came to him the mother of Zebedee's children with her sons, worshipping him, and desiring a certain thing of him.
21 And he said unto her, What wilt thou? She saith unto him, Grant that these my two sons may sit, the one on thy right hand, and the other on the left, in thy kingdom.
22 But Jesus answered and said, Ye know not what ye ask. Are ye able to drink of the cup that I shall drink of, and to be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with? They say unto him, We are able.
23 And he saith unto them, Ye shall drink indeed of my cup, and be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with: but to sit on my right hand, and on my left, is not mine to give, but it shall be given to them for whom it is prepared of my Father.
24 And when the ten heard it, they were moved with indignation against the two brethren.
Before the day of Pentecost and the infilling of the Holy Spirit, the disciples were provoked to manifest great displeasure and indignation at the request of James and John and their mother. They were allowing their human emotions to rise up to a level of strife and contention to stand against their fellow disciples.
After the day of Pentecost, we do find Paul and Barnabas having a strong disagreement. However, a close study of the word “contention” in this passage indicates that the frustration and exasperation which they felt did not rise to the level of indignation and condemnation which was previously experienced. Paul and Barnabas did not become adversarial or spiritually divided. The emotions of anger and frustration are not sin; but what we allow those emotions to provoke within our hearts is the critical issue.
What do you provoke, and what do you allow others to provoke in you?